Last weekend Dustin had a contract trip to New Orleans and I was off so we decided to make a weekend of it. There wasn’t room in the plane for us, but it’s only a 5-hour drive (give or take) so we decided the kids and I would meet him there. Initially we had a hard time finding an available hotel, but he did finally get a room at The Roosevelt New Orleans. It’s a Waldorf Astoria hotel, which made it super fancy in my book, and it got great reviews on Trip Advisor, which is usually my only criteria. It’s also close to the French Quarter, so it was within walking distance of most things we would want to do. Before we left, Dustin had shown Harper the pictures online, so she was super excited. Mostly about the pool that was on the roof. Who cares if it even has a bed? The plan was for us to leave about 9 am on Friday. That way Hudson could catch his morning nap, and we could stop at Baton Rouge Chick-Fil-A for lunch and to let Harper play for a little bit. Well, I am on time for work and work only. Ever. Seeing as how this was not work, we left about 10 or 10:30.
So we’re just truckin’ down the road, trying to make good time (read: speeding), when traffic came to a dead stop outside of Lake Charles. Long story short, it took TEN hours to get to New Orleans. That’s T-E-N, ten hours. We did still stop in Baton Rouge, where Harper made sure everyone that crossed her path knew she was going to the Roosevelt Hotel. The other kids were not impressed. So anyway, that was one hour, but that still left 9 hours in the car. Looking back, I think aside from all the construction and rush hour traffic, we were also headed east with all the other spring break vacationing families on the exact day they would all be heading out too. Think Gulf Shores, Destin, Disney World… My GPS said 3 hours remaining for about 6 hours of the trip. When we finally got to New Orleans it took us about an hour to travel that last mile with all the traffic. Dustin (who had been in New Orleans most of the day at this point), kept apologizing any time we talked to him, but I was just kind of delirious. Luckily the kids were amazing, though also not thrilled, so somehow I never turned Hyde crazy.
We finally got to the hotel, got parked, and unloaded the car. Dustin had ordered us fancy pizzas from a restaurant attached to the hotel, so we ate and went to check out the pool. It was waaaay past bedtime at this point, but Harper had been so excited, so she and Dustin swam for a bit. Now it was cold. For New Orleans anyway. Like 60s. But luckily the pool was heated and then there was the hot tub as well. Hudson and I went with them to check it out and it really was a nice pool. The rooftop location was kind of awesome, and then at night it had color changing lights which was way cooler to us than to Harper. But whatever. I’m not sure what time she finally got in bed, but it was definitely late.
The next morning, we of course had to hit up Cafe Du Monde. And early, because that line is insane. So we get there, and of course the line is crazy but so worth it. We had our giant jogging stroller with us, and after a while we were wondering how in the world we would fit it inside. We decided to just hop over to the to-go line which moves so much faster! We loaded up our powdered heaven and parked our crew on a bench at that elevated spot across from Jackson Square (does it have a name?). We had so much more room to move around, plus they got to watch the construction on the river side.
About the time we finished eating, the rain started. We were already prepared for it to rain all day, so we headed to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Dustin bought tickets to everything there. This Aquarium is one of those places where it depends on the type of person you are, and who you are with, as to how much time you spend there. For us, with a busy 5-year-old, it meant speeding through all of it. We saw everything but had little time to really see anything.
The parakeet thing was kinda funny. They have this little room with a million parakeets flying around and you can get a popsicle stick with a little food on the end. Harper was so excited to do it but then was freaked out if a bird got anywhere near her food stick. I even tried to get one on the stick and then hand it to her. Nope. When did she flip this switch? She used to love bugs and animals, and our job was to try to save all small creatures from her. Suddenly a parakeet, or even worse, a house fly, strike terror. Whatever kid.
Anyway, then we went to the IMAX. I don’t remember the name of the show but it was about this crazy blob of fish and how they protect themselves by morphing when they are being hunted. Were they sardines? I don’t know but it was crazy cool (upon reading my rough draft to my husband, he has informed me that this movie was about the entire ecosystem off the coast of Africa). This was perfect time and place for nursing a baby too. I think I love 3D glasses on my loved ones even more than 3D movies. Why are they just so funny?! The best part was watching Harper reach out to try to grab the dolphins though. That stuff never gets old.
By then we were hungry. Being in New Orleans, we wanted good food, but having a baby and a 5-year-old, we needed easy. One of the restaurants my friends had recommended was the Ruby Slipper Cafe. We were nearby so we went to the one on Magazine St. The wait was forever long though and you know.. kids. So we started wandering which is never good for us. About 30 minutes later we decided to go back to the Ruby Slipper because that was what we wanted and we can’t make hungry decisions. Actually, I can’t make that kind of decision any time. So I downloaded the app, got on the waiting list and we headed back to wait. We could have been done eating by this time I’m sure, but you know… Anyway, the food was amazing. I had the Spanish omelet and a mimosa. Probably should have gotten something a little more New Orleans-y but I was hangry and that just sounded amazing. And it was! Dustin got the hot-smoked salmon omelet (too much weird stuff for me but he said it was delicious) and Harper had grilled cheese and a pancake because if dairy and starches are options then there are no other options. Obviously my child.
Yes, this was taken inside a bathroom stall, and yes, this is what tourist Mommy apparently looks like.
Apparently, while we ate it crazy rained again, but it was already sunny by the time we left (we weren’t in there that long!). We still had tickets to the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, so that was our next stop. I don’t know why I expected it to be bigger, but honestly, I saw more bugs than I preferred to see anyway.
And why in the world was I dying to get to the Bug Appetit section, where they have food made with bugs? Why? Why? Why? We tried to get Harper to think it was cool, but she didn’t even think it was interesting. Dustin ate some bug and mango chutney, and I ate bug salsa. Really mine just tasted like salsa. Then Dustin ate a cinnamon bug crunch. That wasn’t mixed with anything, and he said it was like eating a crunchy, cinnamon flavored bug. Go figure. Harper didn’t even want to watch us eat it. Disinterest, not disgust.
The butterfly section was cool but also smaller than I had expected.
In the gift shop on the way out, I got a couple tiny chocolate chip bug cookies and got Harper to eat one by promising her a trip to the gift shop in the hotel. She was not happy. I thought it would be funny but no not really. She. Was. Pissed.
We went back to Jackson Square, and I fed Hudson while Dustin and Harper watched some dancing street performers. If you have ever been to New Orleans you know who I am talking about. Those dudes made a TON of money and had sooo many people watching! They came around and were collecting money, and Dustin gave Harper a dollar to give them. The guy gave her a DVD because he said another guy bought one and told them to give it to a kid. It’s still in the back of my car. I’m afraid to touch it for reasons I will explain later.
Then we started heading toward a shop I wanted to go to but couldn’t get by because of some random parade. Only in New Orleans! Harper sat on Dustin’s shoulders and tried to get them to throw her some beads, but she wasn’t enthusiastic enough I guess. Then we went to a toy shop and I thought she would get some sort of New Orleans souvenir toy, but no, a cat stuffed animal. Whatever. For some reason we stopped in the Fudgery, right near Jackson Square, to get Harper some ice cream. The only reason I even mention this is the lady making fudge in there was just singing her heart out and had the most amazing voice! It was just one of those moments that is so stereotypically New Orleans. I love it!
Then we had gumbo for dinner. Hudson was an angel, but Harper was crying and whining. I would mention where we ate, because in the moment the food was really good, but given the events that unfolded that night I think I ought to keep that information to myself. By this point the nightlife was already waking up, and we saw some pretty interesting characters. I wondered how the night would fare for a few we saw that were already looong gone.
We made it back to the hotel and Hudson was asleep, so we started getting ready for bed, but then he woke up and screamed. For a little while I felt bad he was so loud. Last night we thought this hotel was really quiet, but now there were people on both sides of us. Dustin actually called the front desk twice to ask them to quiet down. I promise you it was one of the many cheerleaders we had seen all day, with all the girlie squeals and running up and down the halls, slamming doors. I am officially old.
The next day started at 12:30 am, when Harper woke up and puked all over the bed, and then puked every hour, on the hour, the rest of the night. I guess we got the girls next door back. They had to hear Harper puking, and then crying and yelling, “I need water!” Then Hudson would wake up and scream, and not go back to sleep until I could nurse him for a few minutes. This I could not do while holding Harper’s hair back with one hand, and a trash can in the other. My poor babies!
Dustin had to fly the people back to Houston the next morning, but first he got me food at McDonald’s, and then went to Walgreens to get a few things I needed for Harper and a few snacks to keep me alive until he made it back. We booked the room for one more night, Dustin went to work and then planned to fly Southwest back here to New Orleans. We just holed up in the room all day hugging a trash can, watching Disney channel and sleeping off and on.
I sure hope this is her first and last up-all-night-puking-in-New-Orleans experience!
About 4 pm, I called the front desk and asked if they could bring new sheets and towels. The housekeeping lady came, and I told her she could just leave the linens because Harper was sick, but she was really sweet and still took care of the room for us, albeit very quickly (who could blame her?!). A second lady came later because we needed a new comforter and they had to get one from downstairs. So then later in the evening we had both ladies checking in on us, offering tea and things for me too. I’ve never actually tipped housekeeping, but I tipped both of these ladies. I ordered room service for dinner and only then did Harper start acting like she might be getting better, but she still said her tummy hurt and she wouldn’t eat anything. By the time Dustin got back that night she was done throwing up, but she still didn’t feel great. For safety’s sake she and I still slept with the trash can in the bed! She definitely got her fill of the Roosevelt Hotel!
The next morning, Harper acted much better and was even ready for food. But first on her list for the morning, was to go back to the place we ate dinner and tell them she got sick. No, we didn’t do that even though she insisted, but I will admit I may never look at gumbo or jambalaya the same again. We went to Creole House for brunch. Harper hardly ate, but I wasn’t about to force her. She still acted alright and was so excited about the restaurant having an upstairs. Ah, the simple things. I wasn’t going to let her go up there, but then we ended up using the restroom upstairs. It really is a cute little restaurant and for some reason the upstairs did make it more fun, I have to admit. I had the bayou omelet and Dustin had a bayou bowl. He says his was okay, but mine was A-mazing! We didn’t quite know what to do at that point. Did we dare try to do a few things or just head home? We left that up to Harper. She said her tummy hurt and she wanted to go home. So we loaded back up, gave her some Dramamine and headed home. Zero traffic. But then, we had Daddy with us, so it would, of course, be a fast trip.
Of course, I got sick once we got home. Explosive diarrhea and massive vomiting. But the stabbing abdominal pain might have been the worst. And about a day later Harper started puking again… for a week! I honestly think we had norovirus, and this trip will forever be referred to as “the one where we got New Orlovirus.”
If I ever get brave enough to go back, there are a few things I would still like to see and do in NOLA:
- Mardi Gras, obviously. Maybe even with the kids for the (family friendly) parades and such. At least go to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World if I never can convince my husband to brave the crowds.
- Ride the St. Charles Streetcar around just for fun. With or without the kids. I’ve done it before but I feel like I missed out this time.
- Take a jazz cruise on the Steamboat Natchez (my family did this when I was in high school, but I want to do it again).
- Do a carriage ride. Again, with or without the kids. Also something I’ve done but need to do with my husband.
- The French Quartour kid’s tour sounds like it would be a lot of fun for all of us. It’s the one thing we have to do with the kids. We’re not that creepy.
- Do a swamp tour on an airboat. Or as my family would call it, a “swamp turr.”
- Ride the antique carousel at Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.
- Check out the sculpture garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
- Maybe visit an alligator farm. There is one not that far from home for us, but when in Rome..
- And eat some more. There are only 5 zillion restaurants in New Orleans and I’d bet every single one of them has something amazing.
- I also need to visit the Tabasco factory. I realize this is not in New Orleans, but it is on the way to or from home. And isn’t Tabasco a Louisiana staple?
FYI: This is in no way a sponsored post. Maybe one day, but not this day.